Updated: Tue, 23 Apr 2013 15:34:49 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

Rights group launches campaign to ban 'killer robots'

A global rights group launched a campaign on Tuesday to ban Terminator-style "killer robots" amid fears the rise of drone warfare could lead to machines with the power to make their own decisions about killing humans.


Rights group launches campaign to ban 'killer robots'

A mock "killer robot" pictured in central London on April 23, 2013 during the launch of the Campaign to Stop "Killer Robots". A global rights group launched the campaign on Tuesday to ban Terminator-style "killer robots" amid fears the rise of drone warfare could lead to machines with the power to make their own decisions about killing humans.

Human Rights Watch said it was creating an international coalition to call for a global treaty that would impose a "pre-emptive and comprehensive ban" on artificially intelligent weapons before they are developed.

The New York-based group also warned of a possible "robotic arms race" if even one country took the step to allow such machines to enter service.

"Lethal armed robots that could target and kill without any human intervention should never be built," said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch, said at the launch in London of the "Campaign To Stop Killer Robots".

"A human should always be 'in-the-loop' when decisions are made on the battlefield.

"Killer robots would cross moral and legal boundaries, and should be rejected as repugnant to the public conscience."

The campaign includes several non-governmental organisations involved in previous successful efforts to ban anti-personnel landmines, cluster munitions, and blinding lasers.

Activists wheeled out a home-made robot outside the Houses of Parliament in London for the launch of the campaign.

The United States has led the way in military robots such as the unmanned drone aircraft that carry out attacks and surveillance in countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

According to Britain's Bureau of Investigative Journalism, CIA drone attacks in Pakistan have killed up to 3,587 people since 2004, up to 884 of them civilians.

But these are controlled by human operators in ground bases and are not able to kill without authorisation.

Recent technical advances will soon allow not only the United States but also countries including China, Israel, Russia, and Britain to move towards fully autonomous weapons, Human Rights Watch warned.

"If one or more country chooses to deploy fully autonomous weapons, others may feel compelled to abandon policies of restraint, leading to a robotic arms race," it said.

Fully autonomous robots that decide for themselves when to fire could be developed within 20 to 30 years, or "even sooner," Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School said in a report in November on the same subject.

Raytheon's Phalanx gun system, deployed on US Navy ships, can search for enemy fire and destroy incoming projectiles all by itself. The X47B is a plane-sized drone able to take off and land on aircraft carriers without a pilot and even refuel in the air.

Perhaps closest to the Terminator-type killing machine portrayed in Arnold Schwarzenegger's action films is a Samsung sentry robot already being used in South Korea, with the ability to spot unusual activity, talk to intruders and, when authorised by a human controller, shoot them.

"Many militaries are pursuing ever-greater autonomy for weaponry, but the line needs to be drawn now on fully autonomous weapons," Goose said.

"These weapons would take technology a step too far, and a ban is needed urgently before investments, technological momentum, and new military doctrine make it impossible to stop."

1Comment
Apr 23, 2013 9:29PM
avatar

 It's technology, and it will be hard to stop their development. . . Their next action better be a ban on pitfalls with sharpened poles, facing upwards, on the bottom.

Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

Sports News

Sabella to quit Argentina post - press
Sabella to quit Argentina post - press

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella will not renew his contract once it expires in September, Argentine press reports claimed on Tuesday.

Celebrity Gossip

Pregnant actress Mila Kunis celebrated her baby shower at a low key bash with friends in Los Angeles on Sunday (27.07.14).
Mila Kunis celebrates her baby shower

Pregnant actress Mila Kunis celebrated her baby shower at a low key bash with friends in Los Angeles on Sunday (27.07.14).

Top Stories

Forbes Business

  • During a summer of skimpy bathing suits and bare sundresses, many women are thinking about one number. It's not the number of diapers they need to cart to the Hamptons or the balance of their bank accounts. This season most women will be obsessing about their weight. And it seems they will try anything to drop the pounds.